If not for the strong play of backup Jonathan Bernier, the Los Angeles Kings — the 2012 Stanley Cup champions — may have missed the playoffs in 2013.
That’s no exaggeration. The Kings finished four points ahead of ninth-place Columbus in the Western Conference. In 14 appearances, Bernier went 9-3-1 with a .922 save percentage and played especially well in February when starter Jonathan Quick was dealing with “some ups and down.”
Bernier, of course, was traded to Toronto in June. In return, the Kings acquired forward Matt Frattin and backup goalie Ben Scrivens.
So…what do the Kings have in their new No. 2 netminder?
Well, Scrivens, 26, has started 28 games in the NHL, all for the Maple Leafs (11-14-2, .910 save percentage).
He also comes cheap, at a cap hit of just $550,000 (the Leafs retained $62,500 of his salary) for 2013-14, after which he can become an unrestricted free agent.
But playing behind Quick in Los Angeles, the undrafted Cornell product — which places him in rather stark contrast to Bernier, who was taken 11th overall in 2006 — knows he’ll have to fight for his starts.
“You’ve got to earn every minute you’re on the ice,” he said. “But saying that, the better you play, the more chances you get. Hopefully I can provide a good counterpunch when Quickie needs a break and hopefully I can force the coaching staff into a difficult decision in how often they want to play me because I’m playing well. That’s all you can do and that’s all I’m going to focus on.”
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